I have always been a fan of Sports Illustrated since I can remember. As a child my mother used to let me look at the magazine. One of my first memories as a VERY young kid was a picture in SI of Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State leaping over a dogpile into the endzone. Since then I was hooked.
I have been a fan of SI.com as well and really got into the site when I started playing fantasy football. Their "Fantasy Plus" section is one of the most informative I have found online.
I happened to find FanNation when I was reading a Dr. Z article one day and I was intrigued by the idea. Maybe there are similar sites out there online but I had never seen anything like it. (Particularly the Throwdown element) The site does a great job of providing quality sports discussion in different arenas, and what makes it more impressive is how it caters to your own personal preference for sports teams.
What stood out most to me was the Throwdown page. I have loved shows like PTI for a long time and given my experience in debate and minor focus in law right now seemed to be a fun thing for me to do. And I wasn't disappointed by the site...at first.
The majority of sports debates I have been involved in were fun and each opponent displayed a lot of respect for each other. In fact I can only think of 3 out of almost 30 I have been in that got out of hand. But when they do get out of hand they get WAY out of hand. And this is the issue I have with FanNation.
The Throwdown section of FanNation is meant to be a fun and informative section of the site devoted to knowledgeable sports fans. But it seems that lately people are taking it far too seriously.
I have been lucky enough to win the throwdowns I have been in. Nobody seemed to really care about a win-loss record of mine until I was placed at the top of the fictional leaderboard. Since then I have heard comments, both good and bad, about the "streak."
First off the idea of a debating streak is pretty silly to me. I know we all have a competitive element in us but let's be realistic. Streaks that are impressive are Joe Dimaggio's hitting streak, or Cal Ripken's or Brett Favre's continuously played game one. While it is fun to debate with people on the site I don't hold the win-loss record as dear to my heart as some. It feels weird to see comments like "AdamLee is a God!" or "AdamLee must be stopped." I'm a college student and my record on here or my opinion, as I have said many times, is no better than anyone else's. So there's no need to say I'm great or say my record is inflated. In the real world none of it matters. We don't get brownie points for winning throwdowns.
Too often I have seen people insulting one another on here and for what? Because they believe the Yankees or Red Sox will win the AL East? There is no sport topic that is worth insulting another human being. If it comes to that then maybe we need to step back evaluate our priorities.
I have been on both sides of saying that people were cheating and being accused of cheating. To me this is just funny. I feel bad for any person on here who feels the need to cheat on this site. And yet I have been on both sides. When it comes to this I think it is time to ask ourselves if this has become more than it was intended to.
There is both beauty and ugliness on the FanNation site, much like the sports we watch. Look at the Chicago Cubs. One year we see Kerry Wood blow away the Astros by striking out a record 20 batters. Then another we see the Cubs Curse continue and their hopes of a World Series title fall to a foul ball an overzealous fan tries to grab. (Although I would argue that there was more to the loss than that.) There are ups and downs in all aspects of life.
The FanNation site hasn't been around for very long and we already have lots of members saying it has lost its appeal. I don't think it has lost its appeal as much as it has lost its fun for the most part. How do we fix this? I am not sure. There are going to be great people on the site and less than friendly ones, just like in real life. I just think we all need to step back and realize that this site represents what sports should be: a spectating event that unites various members of the world based upon their allegiances to a team. But while we may love one team more than another we shouldn't lose sight of who our opponent is, a human being just like us. If we can't be respectful of each other then we shouldn't be on the site.
I have talked to administrators and they have some exciting additions coming soon for the site. How fun they will be for everyone is up to us. Is FanNation a perfect creation? No. But then neither are we.